By Alison Stegert
|Image c/o Asian Cajuns|
How do you go back to church? Life happens, things get busy, work takes you places... But suddenly you feel the need to return to church.
Reintegrating to church life can feel as awkward as it is to return to an old hairdresser. You know—the one you ditched for the cute new salon with equally cute barista? The cheerful “Darling, it’s so good to see you,” that greets your return stings your guilty ears, but you’re desperate for a decent cut. Tut-tutting and fingering your limp tresses, he mutters, “What have we here?”
Oh, the shame.
Or maybe going back to church is more like rejoining the gym after two years of high living. At your first Zumba class you stare at the taut-bummed fitniks hopping around without so much as a puff, while you bumble around the back of the class, gulping air. Was it always so hard?
For some, a return to church is akin to that feeling you get when you realise that car you zoomed past was a mobile police radar unit. Guilt over something—anything—shoves your heart half way up your throat and makes your pulse throb behind your temples.
The Wild-eyed & Trembling look probably doesn’t make a good impression on your first day back at church—even if you are drop-dead gorgeous in your Zimmermann drape dress and gorgeous new heels.
How do you go back to church? Is it possible to reintegrate into church life? Yes. Absolutely. It’s all a matter of knowing who to trust. And that’s simple.
It’s his house and he welcomes you in. Unlike an uppity hairdresser, he won’t make you pay with the silent treatment or other malarkey. He’s familiar with every temptation known to humankind and with every one of your individual weaknesses. In fact, he has a special affection for the broken ones who return, even if while they were gone they partied hard and got up to no good. Hard to believe, but true.
When he welcomes you back, Jesus understands that it takes time to learn the Christian routine. While you’re relearning the steps and quite possibly feeling as graceful as a baboon in pair of strappy Jimmy Choos, he’s patiently leading. His Spirit even offers one-on-one coaching!
And that guilt and insecurity that have got you around the throat? It’s not from him. He’s not out to trip you up. Church is meant to be a place of learning and healing, a filling station to top up with grace so you can follow Jesus’ lead and share his love around. Discipleship—becoming a follower of Jesus—is a life journey, not a one-off course.
The best way to reintegrate to church life is to focus on the most important things: loving God and loving people. Step number one: find a godly mentor, someone who can help you along the discipleship road. Keep your eye out for a person whose faith and life inspire you. Mentoring can happen over a coffee or on a walk; the important thing is to connect regularly.
Alison Stegert is a school counsellor, former church pastor, writer and author. She blogs at One Yet in Ink and eQuipped and Tweets here.
Girl With a Satchel